Thursday, January 27, 2011

The art of editing

   Editing is just as important as writing. I never send a manuscript to the writing group before polishing it.There are exceptions to this rule, though. But, overall, I do polish them before submitting them to be critiqued.
   Searching for strategies and ideas to make the most out of my editing experience,  I consulted literary journals and books that talked about editing. These are my conclusions. I hope you will find them useful:

  The first stage of the editing process is to grab the big picture (macro-editing):
-Characters: what are their motives? Are they clear? Are they credible?
- Intention: what is the purpose? What am I trying to convey?
-Structure: do scenes flow well? Do I give too much information at the beginning? Or do I give so little that the reader doesn't get hooked to it? Check tension and climax. Do all the parts hold well together? Sometimes it may be necessary to reorder scenes.
-Theme: during the editing process, I may work on making it more clear through a recurrent idea or imagery.

Then the second stage is the one that deals with all the details. Now I read very slowly:
-Language: I pay attention to word choice. I may change words if I find better ones to express the same thing. I reread carefully to get rid of cliches. I avoid language that sounds artificial. I pay attention to unnecessary repetition. (Sometimes, there is stylish repetition and that is o.k) or redundant ideas ( what I call over-telling).
-Beginnings, endings and transitions.
 One more tip: if something doesn't sound right and I don't know why, I rewrite it.
  Finally, I read the text in a loud voice to know how it sounds. I change  whatever I need to change.
  Then I send it to the writing group. The next stage of editing happens after  I read  my fellow writers' feedback.
  Sometimes editing feels like a never-ending task. But I enjoy the reward of ending up with a polished manuscript that I 'm willing to submit for publication...


  1. Editing is kinda like surgery. It's a complex and precise exercise.

  2. This is an excellent and clearly laid out plan to follow. I'm glad you mention character motives; that was actually a point I had to really hone at the beginning of one book. The character didn't have enough at stake for their behaviour to completely make sense. Ahh, and that's why I'm coming to actually love the editing process! Making the story AWESOME the second time round.


  3. I'm pleased to know you found it useful! (I come back to this blog entry to remind myself of points I may have missed out). Good luck with your story! Have a great week.


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